[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Feb 6 02:35:43 UTC 2008

At 11:42 PM 2/4/2008, The Avantguardian  wrote:

>--- hkhenson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:
> > [Stuart], did you read the book?  Clark spent a huge effort on
> >
> > at the wills of people from the 1200s on.  His evidence is very
> > robust on this particular point.
>Admittedly I didn't read the book but I trust your acumen to be able to
>give a concise interpretation of the book that is quite along the lines
>of what the author intended. And from what you have said, it seems to
>be a literary reincarnation of Herbert Spencer's arguments for social

Sigh thought stopper, again.


>I think Clark's biggest mistake is that he is conflating environment
>with genetics thus putting the cart before the horse. Genes adapt to
>environments; environments don't adapt to genes.

That's the exact point Clark makes in the book!


> > At least read the first chapter.
>Since my last post, I have read the summary paper by Clark that you
>posted the other day. I think Bill's point is that the wills are biased
>because unlike gallop polls, the sample is not being selected at

For the purpose Clark had, showing a connection between wealth and 
genetic contribution to the next generation, these will seem like 
decent data.

>Treating the wills that he happened to have at hand is
>convenience sampling, not random sampling. They are further biased
>because they represent one small geographical region of England, namely
>If he had wills from Liverpool and Edinburgh too, combined them and
>chose some at random by flipping a coin or something, he would have had
>something closer to a random sample. Suffolk is a pastoral county not a
>metropolitan one. What makes you think it was representative of all of
>England at the time, when most of the factories were concentrated in
>the cities like London?

Because of the high urban death rates, the people and gene flow was 
from such places as Suffolk to London.

>All that aside, however, I am not so much against the idea that genetic
>shifts occured attendant to the industrial revolution, but probably
>more as a trailing rather than a leading influence. Correlation is not
>evidence of causation.
>I could just as easily posit that the Information Age started in
>California because the wealthy inhabitants of Beverly Hills owned more
>automobiles than their housekeepers did.

Ok.  Clark's work is the first I have seen that provides a tentative 
explanation for the where and when the industrial revolution occurred 
and why it has taken root in some place and not in others.  I might 
add that Clark comes to his explanation reluctantly and, if you look 
at his previous research papers, over a long period.

You might say he was forced into this view by his research.

If you have a better explanation that fits the data, please present it.

Keith Henson 

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